Grant Hilbert at all times knew he needed to be a farmer, however figured he’d must work 20 or 30 years in one other career to afford to purchase land in Iowa.
Seems he wanted simply six years of enjoying video video games.
Hilbert, 21, of Ankeny, made sufficient cash from YouTube movies of him enjoying the Farming Simulator online game to assist him purchase 250 acres in Poweshiek and Mahaska counties that he now has planted in corn and soybeans.
Earlier than anybody will get a psychological picture of a slacker getting wealthy off video video games, know that Hilbert filmed, edited and posted a video practically day by day he was enrolled in lessons at Iowa State College, the place he earned a level in agricultural enterprise and economics in 2020.
The explanation he has greater than 1.3 million followers on his The Squad YouTube channel is as a result of he comes up with recent concepts for movies, together with as soon as when he and his pals constructed a racetrack inside Farming Simulator and held a digital race.
In a latest video — he nonetheless posts a number of Farming Simulator movies per week — Hilbert and Chandler Buch, who Hilbert employed to assist movie movies, position play shopping for a tractor at public sale. The video had 55,000 views and 84 feedback inside 24 hours.
Hilbert and a pal began The Squad channel in 2014, after they have been in tenth grade, first enjoying an assortment of common video video games.
“Me and my buddy have been enterprise minded. We went into it figuring out you possibly can make some cash from YouTube,” he mentioned.
Inside a couple of months, the channel was simply Hilbert, and he was principally enjoying simply Farming Simulator, a online game sequence developed by GIANTS software program and launched in 2008 that lets gamers just about develop crops, breed livestock and promote property created from farming.
When Hilbert went to varsity in 2016, a brand new Farming Simulator model got here out and Hilbert tapped into renewed curiosity. He took lessons at ISU from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., filmed movies within the afternoon after which edited and posted the movies every evening.
“I did not have the enjoyable faculty expertise like lots of different individuals; I used to be doing YouTube,” he mentioned.
Shopping for a farm
A couple of-third of U.S. farmland was inherited or gifted by a member of the family and one other 16 p.c was bought from a relative, in line with a 2016 research by the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s Financial Analysis Service.
Hilbert could not do both of these issues. His grandparents and uncles farm close to Algona, however Hilbert’s dad and mom, Barney and Rita, moved from the farm to Ankeny, the place Barney works with provide chains for Corteva and Rita is a house mortgage mortgage officer.
Throughout his junior and senior years at ISU, Hilbert began scouting land brokerage web sites searching for Iowa farmland.
He purchased his first farm proper after faculty commencement. He later purchased two extra farms in the identical space of southern Poweshiek County and northern Mahaska County, close to Montezuma. All three parcels, totaling about 250 acres, value greater than $1.8 million mixed.
“I’m borrowing some huge cash to purchase these farms,” he mentioned. “I take advantage of lots of leverage. I’d say 60 p.c (of the down fee) was from movies and 40 p.c from investments.”
Hilbert owns Bitcoin and invested within the MiningStore, a bitcoin mining website in Grundy County.
“Kudos to him for locating an avenue to do what he loves,” mentioned Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Brent Johnson, when he heard about Hilbert. “There’s lots of farmers on social media telling their tales. I completely love that.”
Every little thing Hilbert does on the farm is fodder for movies for the Grant Hilbert channel on YouTube, which has 129,000 subscribers and 50 movies.
His Might 16 video “First Day of Corn Planting 2022!” has greater than 69,000 views. The 19-minute video begins off with Hilbert deciding on amongst 5 classic caps to put on for the event. Then he and brother, Spencer, climb within the John Deere planter and get to work.
“We will crank it as much as 12 mile, effectively not 12 mile an hour” he mentioned. “We will crank it as much as …”
“Twelfth gear,” Spencer added.
“Twelfth gear, about eight and a half mile an hour,” Grant Hilbert mentioned.
Followers of the 1994 film “Dumb and Dumber” will benefit from the April 21, 2020, video “We Purchased a NEW Tractor! (John Deere 1026R),” which has practically 935,000 views.
Hilbert mentioned he hasn’t had any epic fails, however even small glitches could make compelling movies. Take, for instance, “Noobs Rebuilding a Hydraulic Cylinder” and “Spilling Corn on the Go!”
“There’s much more older viewers on the real-life channel,” Hilbert mentioned. “They may be retired or simply wanting to look at a younger man farming.”
He estimates about 40 p.c of his viewers on both channel is a crossover from the opposite channel.
Hilbert learns find out how to take advantage of his farm repairs from — you guessed it — YouTube. However he additionally has met some useful neighbors and will get labor and recommendation from his dad. As a result of operating an actual farm is totally different from a online game.
“Any regular one that understands a bit bit about agriculture may simply play Farming Simulator,” he mentioned. “Going and doing the true factor is loads harder.”